Have You Triggered Surveillance Today?

I am fairly certain I have come across Homeland Security's naughty words list before, so the alarmist headlines readers may have seen accompanying it recently were probably more in the interest of driving page views than providing any kind of breaking news alert. That said, the list itself is not useless, and anyone who frequents social media might be interested in the words that may put you on the federal radar. For a full list of the key words used to monitor the web, check out Homeland Security's Analyst's Desktop Binder here. The list begins on numbered page 20, which is the 21st page of the document.

While many of the words on the list can be easily anticipated, there are others which might raise a few eyebrows, especially out of context, and which have probably put half the internet users in the country on an analyst's computer screen at one time or another like gas, agriculture, wave and smart. Even the term social media pops up, meaning that I have used at least five key words or terms already in this post alone.

I am sure some Americans will be outraged at this intrusion into privacy, and some would question the wisdom of including some of the terms. I also wonder if terrorists (we are up to at least six terms now) are actually spelling out their exact plans on websites (though they aren't known to be among the most thoughtful of interest groups). On the other hand, the government needs to start somewhere, and social media is public after all. In truth, and despite my typical pro-privacy stance, I feel a little bad for the analysts who have to sort through most of what I see on the web...trudging through the rants of the irrational for 40 hours a week is enough to make anyone a bit sick (and that's seven...).

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